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Published Sep 12, 2023 10:00 PM
Roombas are trusty little vacuum robots that help you clean, tidy, and sometimes even mop your floors to alleviate some of the pain of maintaining a household. With our busy lifestyles and increasingly demanding schedules, we’ll take all the help we can get when it comes to cleaning our homes and spaces. They’re smart, fast, and efficient—three words every over-worked professional or tired parent loves to read.
While a Roomba might not completely replace the need for other forms of cleaning, they can cut down on personal cleaning time and help prevent accumulating pet hair, food scraps, and dust from taking over. If you’re allergy-prone, they’re also great for sweeping up pollen and other allergens. From self-emptying capabilities to voice control to Smart Mapping and beyond, there’s a Roomba with every feature you might need or desire. Here are the best Roombas of 2023 to suit a variety of lifestyles and demands.
How we chose the best Roombas
Roombas have come a long way since their inception by iRobot roboticists. Our Roomba recommendations are based on extensive research and noticing what features we enjoyed in other robot vacuums. We scoured the internet for peer recommendations, critical reviews, and user impressions to ensure we were giving you an adequate representation of what’s on the market. We also considered a wide variety of Roombas suitable for a range of needs, like lifestyle, pets, and other smart capabilities you might find useful.
The best Roombas: Reviews & Recommendations
Roomba models vary in price depending on features, capabilities, bundling, and smart designs. Sometimes, the quickest way to narrow down your options is by knowing your budget and sticking to it. Don’t waste your money on the wrong purchase. With our reviews and recommendations, you can make a smart, informed decision on the best Roomba for your budget, needs, and lifestyle, letting you save the cordless vacuum for the occasional spot clean.
Best overall: RoombaCombo j7+ Robot Vacuum and Mop
Dimensions: 1.3″L x 3.4″W x 13.34″H
Weight: 7 lbs.
Battery life: About an hour
Smart features / Smart mapping
2-in-1 vacuum and mop
Avoids pet waste
Water reservoir needs refilling often
Can get clogged
Vacuum and mop with the same machine with this ultra-advanced Roomba that truly does it all. It features D.R.I. (Dry Rug Intelligence), meaning the Roomba Combo j7+ uses carpet detection to ensure a powerful suction on your messiest carpets without releasing the mop feature. The Auto Retract Mopping System will keep your carpets dry as it lifts itself to the top of the robot and avoids any wet mess.
It’s a different story on hard floors. The 4-stage cleaning system utilizes an Edge-Sweeping Brush, Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes, Power-Lifting Suction, and first-of-its-kind mopping with added pressure to ensure a vacuum-mop combo that leaves your floors squeaky clean. It’s also self-emptying, making your life even easier.
We love that the machine is built to avoid pet waste—perfect for those with puppies or senior dogs.
Do note that, because it has such powerful suction, it will suck up … everything. This can clog the machine, so you’ll need to be mindful of checking the filters and remember that it’s best to ensure a clear path for the device to move. Pick up loose shoelaces, packing materials, and other loose items before turning it on.
Best for corners: Roomba s9+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum
Dimensions: 12.25″L x 12.25″W x 3.5″H
Weight: 19.87 pounds
Battery life: ~45 min
PerfectEdge Technology for corners and crevices
Great for pet households
40x suction power compared to the 600 series
Customizable Keep Out zones
Mapping software needs improvement
This is your best match if you’re frustrated that your Roomba never seems to get into those corners and crevices. With PerfectEdge Technology, advanced sensors, a squared edge and a specially designed brush for corners, the s9+ is made to deep clean those tricky nooks and edges to pick up pet hair, dust bunnies, and trapped dirt.
With 40 times the suction power (compared to the Roomba 600 series cleaning system), the vacuum uses a three-stage cleaning system to lift, loosen, and discard all unwanted gunk from the floors, corners, and crevices, including pet hair from deep within your carpets. The s9+ then empties itself into the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, which can hold up to 60 days of debris. Integrated machine learning allows for personalized cleaning recommendations to work around your life, seasonal allergens, and when your pets are most likely to have extra shedding.
The s9+ features the iRobot OS with intelligent mapping and object detection, but we love that you can customize your machine for Keep Out Zones and Clean Zones so you can be extra sure it won’t knock into delicate items. Do note that some reviewers were unhappy with the mapping software and thought it could use some improvement. It can also run a bit loud, so it might not be ideal for homes with newborns or sensitive ears.
Best entry-level: WiFi-Connected Roomba i4 Robot Vacuum
Dimensions: 13.34″L x 13.26″W x 3.63″H
Weight: 10.32 pounds
Battery life: 75 minutes
Larger battery/longer run time
Smart mapping makes it easy
Google Assistant/Alexa compatible
Dirt detection for concentrated cleaning
Less powerful suction than other models
Struggles with chairs
No way to cancel a job in the App once it is started (only pause)
Still lugging a traditional vacuum around? It’s time to feel the power of the dark side with a sleek black Rooba i4. This robot vacuum from iRobot arrives almost ready to go out of the box. Just plug in the charger, bring the i4 close, and it will attach magnetically. The iRobot app makes it easy to connect your new device to your WiFi through a series of fun screens and animations. Then, all you have to do is press “Clean.”
And clean this intrepid robot did. Spinning and turning, the i4 slowly mapped out the contours of my apartment, from the couch to the desk and into the hallways, kitchen, and bedroom. It methodically traced a path up and down, over wood floors, a rug, and tile. Roomba says this model has 10 times the suction power of the Roomba 692. The dirt sensors directed the i4 to dusty areas, where the multisurface brushes got into the corners and the i4 sucked up dirt, pollen, and other debris. (It’s designed for pet hair as well).
The i4 also did a good job of navigating around and under low pieces of furniture by backing up and approaching from different angles. It was also smart enough to sense a ponytail holder on the floor. Instead of sucking it up as my usual vacuum likely would have, the i4 left it in the center of the floor.
After about 75 minutes, the iRobot headed back to the charging station. After the included lithium-ion batteries were recharged, the i4 set off once again toward my kitchen for a final run. Then the i4 headed back home to the charger: mission completed.
A notification on my phone showed me the floor plan of my apartment the i4 mapped out. It also informed me that the i4 had covered 158 square feet during its working hour and a half, with 27 minutes of cleaning time. I was pleased to note (albeit slightly surprised) that the i4 didn’t detect any “dirt centers” during its first cleaning. You can also sync with Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa if you prefer voice controls. And the app lets you set up a schedule and order replacement parts.
While I will still likely continue to break out the vacuum for the big cleans, the i4 will make it a lot easier to vanquish the dust bunnies and pollen from the comfort of my couch. — Jen McCaffery
Best mop: iRobot Braava jet m6
Dimensions: 10.6″L x 10″W x 3.5″H
Weight: 4.85 Pounds
Battery life: 150 minutes
150 minutes run time
Covers between 400 sq. ft. and 1000 sq. ft
Recharges and resumes when battery is low
Can team up with Roomba Vacuum for complete clean
Navigation needs some improvement
Bumpers aren’t sensitive enough
Not great at docking
The Braava jet m6 robot mop is the ultimate companion piece for your Roomba vacuum. Once you’ve sucked up the dirt, dust, pollen, pet hair, and debris, it’s time to get to mopping up the sticky residue and kitchen grease. This mop works super easily and efficiently—simply attach a mopping or sweeping pad, and the bot does the rest. The Precision Jet Spray distributes cleaning solution that ensures coffee spills or sticky corners are no match for your robot.
We love that it has a long battery life with a run time of 150 minutes and is ideal for larger rooms or multiple rooms. It can cover between 400 square feet and 1,000 square feet. When running low on battery, it automatically recharges itself and resumes cleaning. Reviewers rave about how quiet the device is. You can also easily control and customize how your robot cleans, when it cleans, and other factors with the iRobot Home App.
It has its downsides, though. Some reviewers complain that the navigation is not up to par, and the bumpers aren’t sensitive enough, so it can get stuck underneath chairs or between objects. It’s also not great at docking, so you may need to give it a boost.
Best self-emptying: iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO (3550) Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum
Dimensions: 13.34″L x 13.26″W x 3.63″H
Weight: 14.96 pounds
Battery Life: 75 min
75 min run time
Cleans in rows
Patented Dirt Detect Technology
Smart mapping learns room-by-room
Carpet cleaning can be hit or miss
The Roomba i3+ EVO robot vacuum is smart and self-sufficient with self-emptying capability so that you can do even less and clean even more. It learns and maps your home room-by-room, with 10x the Power-Lifting Suction of the 600 series.
It features a three-stage cleaning system and includes voice commands for Google Assistant and Alexa. With Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, this smart vacuum will automatically return itself to the base when it’s ready for bin disposal and then resume cleaning after. It captures 99% of particles as small as .7 microns and holds up to 60 days of cleanings, meaning you won’t have to even think of your vacuum for months.
We love that it cleans in straight, tidy rows, going back and forth for a deep and thorough clean. The Integrated sensors guide the robot so it won’t get stuck or confused.
Reviewers do say that the bot will need a bit of a learning curve as it gets used to and learns your space, so try to be patient. They also say this guy is quite loud, especially when emptying.
Best budget: iRobot-Roomba 694 WiFi Connected Robot Vacuum
Dimensions: 13.4″L x 13.4″W x 3.54″H
Weight: 6.77 Pounds
Battery Life: 90 min
90 min run time
Trouble getting over thicker rugs
With tons of great reviews, the Roomba 600 series robot vacuum is a great value for your dollar. This Roomba is a great beginner vacuum, offering smart cleaning for around $200 (which is a steal compared to most models). It has several of the features embedded in the more expensive models, like smart mapping, custom cleaning schedules, Dual Multi-Surface Brushes for a variety of floor types, and even includes an edge-sweeping brush for corners, crevices, and edges.
It’s Google Assistant and Alexa compatible, easy to control through the iRobot Home App, and even anticipates high shedding and allergy seasons. It also has a whopping 90 minutes of run time, which means it can clean your whole apartment in one go. When the battery is running low, it will automatically dock itself and recharge, then continue on its duties when it’s juiced up.
It can be quite noisy, reviewers note, and may have some trouble jumping over thicker rugs. But all in all, this is a great product for budget buyers.
What to consider when choosing the best Roombas
Choosing a Roomba is based on a variety of factors that suit your individual lifestyle and needs. Here are a few variables to consider:
Functionality and features
Depending on your home type, lifestyle, pet situation, and whether or not you have kids, you may need more or less special perks and features. Here are some functions and features to look out for:
Suction power: Higher-end (read: pricier) models tend to offer better suction.
Cleaning modes: Think about modes like edge cleaning, carpet versus hardwood floor cleaning capabilities, and cleaning patterns like rows and spot cleaning to ensure you get the type of cleaning you need.
Smart mapping: Some models can learn and map your home for more efficient cleaning without personal interference.
Voice & app control: Would you like smart-home system compatibility (like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant), or would you rather use the app? Do you want both options?
Dirt detection: Some models offer advanced dirt detection for concentrated and hyper-focused cleaning.
WiFi capability: Some advanced features and modes will require WiFi, which is something to consider if dealing with routers is not your jam.
Battery life/Run time: If you have a bigger home, you’ll probably want to look into models with longer run times.
Auto dock and recharge: The ability to return to the charging dock automatically is a godsend for busy families.
Pet friendliness: Some models are specifically designed to handle excessive pet hair and debris.
Integrated barriers: Some models have the option to restrict areas the Roomba can enter.
To cut down on recharging, length of cleaning time, and personal interference, you may want to focus on higher battery life and more advanced features for larger spaces.
Maintaining your Roomba is essential for its longevity. Consider how easy it is to remove and clean the dust bin, or inquire about filters and whether or not they’ll need to be replaced. This can be an added cost you might want to consider before purchasing.
Q: How long does a Roomba last?
Roombas generally last between 4 to 6 years. Their longevity depends on several factors, including:Frequency of use; how well (or how poorly) it’s been maintained; damage; and model’s age.
Q: How does a Roomba work?
Roombas can use sensors, algorithms, or even cameras to navigate your home. The more frequently you use them, the quicker they can learn their environment via Smart Mapping. Smart Mapping creates a virtual map of your home so it can more efficiently clean your floors, avoid objects, and prevent getting stuck.
Q: How do I clean a Roomba?
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you are properly cleaning your Roomba. Generally, you can remove the dustbin and wipe it down with a damper paper towel and some gentle cleaning solution. You can also clean brushes with hot water and mild soap. Be sure they are dry before continued use. Filters should be replaced as recommended by the individual model.
Q: How long does it take to charge a Roomba?
Generally, most Roombas take about 2 to 3 hours to charge fully. The included instructions and pamphlet should give a more precise timeline.
Q: How long does a Roomba’s battery last?
The battery life, or run time, varies by model. Some models can operate for 60 minutes and some up to 120 minutes. Higher-end models usually have longer battery life.
Final thoughts on the best Roombas
If time is money, your Roomba is more than just a tiny robot; it’s a worthwhile investment in a smart home ecosystem. While we chose the RoombaCombo j7+ Robot Vacuum and Mop for our overall pick (based on its 2-in-1 vacuum and mop feature that allows for total floor cleanup with minimal personal work), we stand by our other picks as great purchases for an easier, more efficient cleaning schedule.
Each one of these Roombas provides excellent suction, Smart Mapping to adapt to you and your individual needs, and efficient navigation for less stress and cleaner floors. Whether you’re new to robotic vacuums or looking to upgrade your current setup, we can all agree that the Roomba isn’t just for removing debris—it’s about enhancing your lifestyle.
Why trust us
Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.
Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.